WAH Nails’ Sharmadean Reid takes to Thailand to test out W Hotels’ innovative twist on the hotel concierge, The W Insider.
The hotel concierge. In today’s world of smartphones, Uber, air miles and Google, the concept seems a little outdated. Sure, if someone wants to take our bags for us, we’re not gonna baulk – but as our luck would have it, W Hotels have come up with a very modern kind of alternative. The Insider Experience, offered free to guests by the hotel group, is executed by each property’s resident experts: socialites who continuously source up-to-the-minute information on restaurants, innovative art exhibitions and nightlife from fashion designers, society folk and in-the-know locals. To put this service to the test in W Bangkok and W retreat Koh Samui, Sharmadean Reid, founder of London’s pioneering nail art brand WAH Nails, flew across the ocean to Thailand’s back packer havens.
Reid’s Insider Experience kicked off with a visit to Wat Arun, the Temple of Dawn where she found herself praying for luck, health and happiness. This was followed by lunch at The Never Ending Summer – a notoriously hard-to-locate restaurant that’s worth a visit for its tranquil ambience alone. On the journey there, W Bangkok’s Insider, Mio, admitted it had originally taken her five attempts to find it. “Our lunch spot was so exclusive, we couldn’t believe it,” Reid tells Wonderland. “It was a complex of buildings designed by Thai architect Duangrib Bunnang, that included his office, a furniture store, café and the restaurant. The design was my idea of heaven, concrete and black punctuated with greenery and pink flowers. The table next to us was packed with Bangkok’s ladies who lunch, hair coiffed to the hilt, all carrying an array of old school luxury designer handbags. Also munching down on the restaurant’s version of traditional Thai cuisine were artists, cool kids and rich families. Crucially, there wasn’t a tourist in sight.”
Next stop was the swanky-pants 20 Nail Studio, situated in the newly opened Central Embassy Mall, which was built on land formally owned by the British Embassy. The WAH Girls got their nails customised by the legendary Ms. Phurin Meewatha. Locally known as “Khun Annie”, she painted a sailor moon in such intricate detail even the WAH girls were fan-girling hard.
The following day, at the hotels’ #WAHPAINTSW event, a gaggle of Bangkok’s elite were treated to the one-off “EAST MEETS W-EST” Bangkok design that WAH had made for the Insider Experience. A fizzed-up afterparty followed in the Extreme WOW Suite, the brand’s take on the presidential penthouse on the hotel’s top floor. “It was the coolest apartment ever, with white marble, its own bar and DJ booth and a giant bath that could fit at least five people,” Reid remembers. “W Bangkok had made the place look so fun and every single girl who came through the door was just so cool and stylish. They have a distinct look of simple chic, mixed with ultra Asian glam.”
A short internal flight later and Reid found herself in lush, sunkissed Koh Samui. “If Bangkok was Bright Lights, Big City, Koh Samui was definitely Notes From a Small Island,” the entrepreneur jests. “Landing in the cutest airport ever – with palm tree-covered mountains around us – felt very James Bond. The incredible welcome cocktail helped to ease the weariness from the flight, too. Called Ocean View, the purple drink turned pink when you added a shot of lemon juice to it. I was in pinky-purple, WAH heaven!”
The Koh Samui Insider Experience started with a trip to a nearby safari park – complete with an elephant ride, course – followed by a preview of a museum dedicated to South Asian art. “W Retreat Koh Samui’s Insider, Kitty, hooked us up. The museum and gardens were serene and beautiful,” enthused Reid. After hitting up a mix of the island’s coolest, hippy-luxe shops, the party headed back to the hotel for some much-needed cocktail relief and modern Japanese food at the hotel’s swanky restaurant, Namu.
With the Gulf of Thailand in everyone’s gaze, the WAH girls were back in mani-action at the #WAHPAINTSW Koh Samui event at the hotel’s swanky private villa, The Seascape Escape. “It was a kind of mini spa day, fitting of the mega-chilled surroundings. There were massages, healthy snacks and, of course, #NAILS. We were surrounded by colour and the view was stunning” Reid enthuses. “We met some girls excited to try our EAST MEETS W-EST designs, which are inspired by the most insane Thai silks. Then we headed to relax on the beach in front of an outdoor screening of American Beauty. Bliss.” First dibs when you’re next in town, Sharm.
Three nights at W Bangkok, and seven nights at W Retreat Koh Samui from £2,279 pp with Destinology (www.destinology.co.uk, 01204 821 230) Price includes accommodation in a Wonderful Room (W Bangkok) and a Jungle Oasis Room (W Retreat Koh Samui) on B&B basis and return flights with British Airways from London Heathrow.
Words: Becky Davies.